Composer Brian Field has been following a musical path since the age of eight. In the time since, he’s obtained an undergraduate degree in music, a Master in Music from Juilliard, a Doctorate from Columbia University, the RMN Classical recording prize, the Benenti Foundation recording prize, the Alvarez Chamber Orchestra Mullord Award, first prize at the Briar Cliff Choral Music Competition, and first prize at the Victor Herbert ASCAP Young Composers’ Contest.
With such an extensive and impressive resume, the bar is set high for Field’s latest release, Vocal Works, released on Navona Records. But this aptly named vocal-focused album surpasses all expectations and is a extraordinary showing of compositional virtuosity and unadulterated musical skill.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
From the very first measures, we are plunged headlong into captivating composition on Vocal Works. Utilizing vocals alone, By and By has almost a theatrical quality to it, using melodic phrasings to create emotion in a deft and introspective way. The Budapest Chorus brings this work to life with brilliant clarity, a perfectly blended performance of a sunny and warm piece.
Tres Canciones De Amor: I, II, and III each offer a unique compositional perspective from Field. Taken from Cien sonetos de amor by Pablo Neruda, Field’s musical interpretation breathes palpable emotion into the words. I gives us tension and dramatic uncertainty amidst moments of rich satisfaction. II doubles down on the anticipation and suspense, the tension level rising to an intense and nearly uncomfortable peak, but III sets us down a bit more gently on the other side with a milder, more inviting conclusion.
Sephardic Lullaby lives up to its title in its entirety. Full of string-forward instrumentation and an angelic vocal performance from Orsi Sapszon at the helm, this is a quintessential lullaby-style track; graceful and ethereal, but not without power.
We also love Let The Light Shine On Me. Mirroring the opening track with a performance solely from the Budapest Choir, this track is more subdued at the start, progressing with a satisfying build. The featured vocalists bring a modern element into the track, bringing hints of pop and perhaps jazz into the mix. This track also highlights Field’s lyric writing ability. Across this project, much of the music features text from other individuals, but in this track we are treated to lyrics from Field alone. They’re tremendously successful, balancing a digestible and relatable message with an arrangement that does in fact feel like a radiant beam of sunshine:
And the answer sets me free:
I’ll keep my heart wide open
Let the light shine on me.”
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
While there are countless moments of musical excellence and compositional greatness across this project, perhaps most memorably we find a moment of thoughtful satirical examination of a long-standing issue in the US in Let’s Build A Wall! The juxtaposition between the soaring passages examining themes of human unity and the supposed welcoming nature of America against the plucky, tongue-in-cheek writing of the verses that herald wall-building as a solution to all of society’s problems is – while very entertaining – an apt summation of the way this issue often plays out in the real world. It offers a sharp, critical opinion that is softened by full-bodied orchestral peaks and soft, delicate valleys. And while Field does not make mention of whether or not he chose Zoli Mujahid as the vocalist for this track because of his accent, it does add a deeper layer of irony to the performance that only serves to bolster the message of deeply conflicting ideologies in America.
BELOW: Listen to Vocal Works by Brian Field and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Brian Field by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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